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Grief and its Challenges

Grief and its Challenges

Neil Thompson


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Book Details


The experience of loss and the healing process of grief are fundamental parts of being human. Written by acclaimed author Neil Thompson, Grief and its Challenges provides a theoretically rich and emotionally compassionate introduction to this complex topic.
Incorporating both traditional and newer viewpoints, this book explores how grieving has been theorized and explains the many social as well as personal factors affecting how individuals encounter, interpret and respond to grief. Brief but telling vignettes show how theory works in practice across a wide variety of grieving experiences, from bereavement and trauma to
the breakdown of a relationship or losing a job.
This text provides holistic understanding as well as guidance on how to respond to the bereaved and grieving. It is essential reading for trainees and practitioners in counselling, psychotherapy, social work and nursing looking to make sense of issues around loss, trauma and grief, and give skilled, sensitive support.
NEIL THOMPSON is a highly respected writer, teacher and adviser, with over 33 years ofexperience in the people professions. He has held full or honorary professorships at four UK universities, and is now a sought after trainer, consultant and conference speaker. He is the editor-in-chief of two online communities: Well-being Zone ( and Social Work Focus ( His personal website is at

'The book, Grief and its Challenges, by Neil Thompson is a timely, groundbreaking accomplishment by an eminent scholar with a style of writing that is accessible to any reader. We are all touched by death and grief. This book is compassionately and conceptually sophisticated, and yet it is able to offer the reader a clear, useful approach to managing grief and loss. It is destined to become a classic for those concerned about grief and its management, which should include all of us.'

- Gerry R. Cox, Professor Emeritus, Center for Death Education & Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, USA

'Neil Thompson is a gifted author, counselor, teacher and advocate. As I read Grief and its Challenges, I found a mirror, reflecting the words back to me as my story. This book is a fine resource with the traditional basics and also refreshing adaptations to today's losses. The book, which includes exercises and simple assignments, will be a great teaching and counseling tool.'

- Richard B. Gilbert, PhD, CT, Mercy College, New York,USA,and The World Pastoral Care Center

'Understanding the challenging and complex issues of grief and loss requires sensitivity, sophistication and skill. Neil Thompson has achieved all of these in this latest book Grief and its Challenges. Theoretically rich and emotionally compassionate, this book offers insights for theory and practice for social and health care professionals, students, and all those with interested in grief and loss.' -

Dr Jan Pascal, La Trobe University, La Trobe Rural Health School, Victoria, Australia

'An excellent book which presents a range of complex issues in an accessible way. It is an erudite, scholarly but practice focussed work. A welcome addition to the literature, it clearly informs readers, while deeply enhancing their learning and understanding.' - Bernard Moss, Emeritus Professor of Social Work Education and Spirituality, Staffordshire University, UK.

'A highly readable text that offers a new perspective on the development of an understanding of grief and the challenges that it poses for the individual, as well as the professional helpers who may be in contact with the grieving person. It is an excellent text.' - Paula Smith, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Bath

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover\r Cove
Contents vii
List of Figures x
Preface xi
Acknowledgements xvi
About the author xviii
Introduction 1
Part I: Making sense of grief 15
Introduction 15
1 Loss and grief 17
Introduction 17
Key terms 17
Traditional theories of grief 21
Contemporary theories of grief 29
Breadth and depth 33
Conclusion 36
2 Crisis and trauma 38
Introduction 38
Crisis 38
Trauma 45
Grief, crisis and trauma 48
Conclusion 52
3 The Social Context 55
Introduction 55
Beyond the psychological 55
The cultural context 60
The structural context 64
Grief in social context 68
Conclusion 70
Part II: Grief and healing\r 73
Introduction 73
4 Experiencing grief 75
Introduction 75
Cognitive reactions 76
Emotional reactions 79
Behavioural reactions 82
Physical reactions 85
Spiritual reactions 86
Conclusion 88
5 Responding to Grief I: the personal response 91
Introduction 91
Universal grief 91
Emotional intelligence 96
Self-care 99
Conclusion 104
6 Responding to Grief II: the professional response 106
Introduction 106
Being there 107
Assessing and managing risk 112
Practical help 115
Healing 117
Conclusion 119
Part III Grief without healing 123
Introduction 123
7 Complications in grieving 125
Introduction 125
Grief, pressure and stress 126
The nature of the loss experience 129
Vulnerability factors 134
Unhelpful reactions to the loss 137
The effects of complicated grief 138
Responding to complicated grief 139
Conclusion 141
8 Grief and psychological problems 143
Introduction 143
Stress, crisis and trauma 143
Identity 145
Inward emotion 149
Outward emotion 152
Conclusion 155
9 Grief and social problems 158
Introduction 158
Social problems: a psychosocial approach 158
Crime and imprisonment 162
Abuse 163
Social alienation and disaffection 165
Violence 166
Educational failure 167
Family breakdown 168
Homelessness 169
Interconnections 171
Conclusion 173
Conclusion 176
Guide to further learning 180
Further reading 180
Journals 185
Training and development resources 186
Websites 186
References 187
Index 195